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Making the Most of Employment References



You’ve created a knockout resume and the easiest part is adding your referees, but maybe you should take some time and give this some thought. 


The people you put forward to give you a reference more than likely will be the ones to ‘seal the deal’ on your new role, make this very important.  Here are a few things to consider:


Professional not Personal

Try and use referees from your professional and not your personal life. Professional is defined as a past supervisor, peer, customer, supplier, or anyone who had a close working relationship with you.


If personal, then …..

Your flat-mate, friend or family member will not be credible as a referee, as they may be perceived as showing bias.   If using personal referees, consider using someone from a volunteer, church or community groups in which you belong.


One size doesn’t fit all

Ensure the professional referees are appropriate to the role you have applied for.   Match the key skills and requirements of the new job to a referee who can speak to those abilities.  Unless you are very early in your career, don’t use the fast food restaurant you worked for while at school for a totally different type of role.


Pick someone who will ‘sing your praises’

When choosing a referee, ensure it is someone who will give you a positive report. You need to consider in advance what they may say about you.  I once had a candidate say “don’t ring him, he never liked me”, but included them on their resume anyway.


Ask permission

Ensure you call (not email or text) the person who you wish to use as a referee and ask them if they are happy to do so.  It’s presumptuous to assume someone will automatically agree to give you a reference.


Give them a heads up

Call or email when you are applying for a role.  Send your referee your resume, application and the job advertisement, so they can prepare for any phone call they may receive.  Ensure you also let them know when you have an interview scheduled, as there may be a long time between applying and securing an interview.


Uneasy about including your current boss?

You may not feel comfortable including your current boss on your resume.  For one thing, they may not know you are looking elsewhere. Ensure you include in your resume that you are willing to provide your current bosses details should you be shortlisted and explain the reason in the interview.


Verbal not written

Most employers will call your referee and ask questions.  Written references will more than likely not address the questions asked and can be so easily faked by an applicant.  Ensure you provide the correct contact information for your referee and If possible, provide a landline and mobile number for them.


Not a great parting

If you have been ‘let go’ or left on your own accord slamming the door on the way out, don’t ask for a reference.  Ensure just after you leave you receive a letter which states the role you carried out and the dates involved. 
See article ‘Leaving a job with dignity.’


Let them know the outcome

Whether you secure the role or not, let your referees know the outcome and thank them for providing the reference.


Remember, referees might be the ‘tie breaker’ between 2 or 3 candidates for a role, so their importance can’t be understated.  Choose them wisely and treat them well and you’ll be on the way to securing your next role.